Assassin’s Creed III: completed!

To be honest, the feeling of being overwhelmed by choice never really left me, and I spent many hours wandering around the American countryside chasing nothing in particular.  After the initial twist in the story, and the urgency created by the village being burnt to the ground, there was no real impetus to hurry through the game - not helped by the fact that your main enemy keeps on cropping up and you keep on having to watch cutscenes where you aren't allowed to kill them.

And then you have to team up with your dad, who's a bad guy, and you know that at some point he's going to die.  You just know it.

So I once again found myself distracted by parts of the game which weren't actually necessary in terms of storyline, but in many cases were more fun.  The sailing being a prime example.


Controlling a ship to chase down pirates or the British was great fun in the main, and even though half the screen was blocked from view by your ship which has a turning circle radius of several hundred miles, it still felt like you were in control.  Yes, it feels like you're battling your ship as well as the enemy, but I imagine it is far more responsive than a real boat.


I also spent some time looking for trinkets, exploring the wilderness, and sneaking around forts.  Not trying to complete any of these in particular, mind, given the lack of achievements and trophies, but rather seeing where they took me.  And after playing for a while they took me to some very strange places indeed.



I started to be followed around by a large spherical mess of polygons.  It blocked my view, shifted itself around the screen from time to time, and was a pain in the arse.  So I quit and restarted from the previous save.



Which then made me into a large spherical mess of polygons.


Restarting again seemed to work fine, until characters and items started to clip through each other - like this horse mounting a second hay wagon.  This was the most amusing bug of all, watching people floating along the top of crowds.

Anyway, we can't mess around for ever.  Returning back to the main story, I followed the path to track down Charles Lee, which led to long battles with the patriot army (helped by my assassin colleagues), and then a chase through a burning ship.  In the end, finally, he got what was coming to him.


It's not as bad a game as some have said.  Connor is certainly less likable than Ezio, but the story had some good turns in the first half the game.  It just feels like it goes on too long, and you miss many opportunities to finish the story because you are taken out of control during the cutscenes - the Connor in the cutscenes was a very different character to the Connor in the rest of the game.

A side story next.

Assassin’s Creed III: completed!

To be honest, the feeling of being overwhelmed by choice never really left me, and I spent many hours wandering around the American countryside chasing nothing in particular.  After the initial twist in the story, and the urgency created by the village being burnt to the ground, there was no real impetus to hurry through the game - not helped by the fact that your main enemy keeps on cropping up and you keep on having to watch cutscenes where you aren't allowed to kill them.

And then you have to team up with your dad, who's a bad guy, and you know that at some point he's going to die.  You just know it.

So I once again found myself distracted by parts of the game which weren't actually necessary in terms of storyline, but in many cases were more fun.  The sailing being a prime example.


Controlling a ship to chase down pirates or the British was great fun in the main, and even though half the screen was blocked from view by your ship which has a turning circle radius of several hundred miles, it still felt like you were in control.  Yes, it feels like you're battling your ship as well as the enemy, but I imagine it is far more responsive than a real boat.


I also spent some time looking for trinkets, exploring the wilderness, and sneaking around forts.  Not trying to complete any of these in particular, mind, given the lack of achievements and trophies, but rather seeing where they took me.  And after playing for a while they took me to some very strange places indeed.



I started to be followed around by a large spherical mess of polygons.  It blocked my view, shifted itself around the screen from time to time, and was a pain in the arse.  So I quit and restarted from the previous save.



Which then made me into a large spherical mess of polygons.


Restarting again seemed to work fine, until characters and items started to clip through each other - like this horse mounting a second hay wagon.  This was the most amusing bug of all, watching people floating along the top of crowds.

Anyway, we can't mess around for ever.  Returning back to the main story, I followed the path to track down Charles Lee, which led to long battles with the patriot army (helped by my assassin colleagues), and then a chase through a burning ship.  In the end, finally, he got what was coming to him.


It's not as bad a game as some have said.  Connor is certainly less likable than Ezio, but the story had some good turns in the first half the game.  It just feels like it goes on too long, and you miss many opportunities to finish the story because you are taken out of control during the cutscenes - the Connor in the cutscenes was a very different character to the Connor in the rest of the game.

A side story next.

Mr. Pumpkin Adventure (Wii U): COMPLETED!

As this was very cheap in a sale before Christmas, and looked very much like Machinarium would do if drawn by the Links Der Isar chaps.

It’s a point and click puzzle adventure game, with some abstract puzzles, some obvious puzzles, and some multi-part what the hell am I supposed to do here puzzles. Mr. Pumpkin Adventure follows Mr. Pumpkin as he wakes up with amnesia, and has to figure out who he is and why he can’t remember anything. The outcome is very much The Matrix, almost literally, and there are sci-fi references all over the place on the way.

mr. pumpkin adventure

And a giant octopus that wants a Wario hat. Erm.

Look, I’m not doing a very good job of explaining the game because there’s no decent way of doing so. I’ll say this instead: if you liked Machinarium or other, similar games, you’ll love this. It took two or three hours to complete, and was definitely worth the quid or so it cost me.

The post Mr. Pumpkin Adventure (Wii U): COMPLETED! appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.

Ultratron (Wii U): COMPLETED

A couple of years back, I played and completed a game called Titan Attacks! on the Vita. At first it looked like a crap Space Invaders clone, but by the end I found I’d really enjoyed it.

ultratron

Ultratron, by the same people and seemingly set in the same universe, does for Robotron what Titan Attacks! did for Space Invaders. A neon, chunky twin-stick shooter with purchasable power-ups and upgrades, bosses, and particles everywhere.

And, just like before, what seemed like a poor copy of an arcade game from 30+ years ago turned out to be a lot of fun. It’s a bit mindless, and the amount of pixels flying around in the form of explosions, pickups and bullets can make it a little hard to see some of the time, but I happily completed it and then carried on playing some more.

The post Ultratron (Wii U): COMPLETED appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.

Ultratron (Wii U): COMPLETED

A couple of years back, I played and completed a game called Titan Attacks! on the Vita. At first it looked like a crap Space Invaders clone, but by the end I found I’d really enjoyed it.

ultratron

Ultratron, by the same people and seemingly set in the same universe, does for Robotron what Titan Attacks! did for Space Invaders. A neon, chunky twin-stick shooter with purchasable power-ups and upgrades, bosses, and particles everywhere.

And, just like before, what seemed like a poor copy of an arcade game from 30+ years ago turned out to be a lot of fun. It’s a bit mindless, and the amount of pixels flying around in the form of explosions, pickups and bullets can make it a little hard to see some of the time, but I happily completed it and then carried on playing some more.

The post Ultratron (Wii U): COMPLETED appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.

Assassin’s Creed III: an expanding map

Now, this is the Assassin's Creed I recognise.  A map filling with icons to distract me from the main quest, a feeling of being overwhelmed and not understanding half the gameplay mechanics.  It looks as if I can build up my homestead with people sympathetic to my cause; there are pages of books flying around and random feathers; there are viewpoints and animal pawprint missions (?) and message delivery missions and and and.


It was so much easier when I was an eagle.


So, as always, I've started off by ignoring the story and trying to scale all the viewpoints in order to unlock the map.  What is quite interesting, though, is that I have a much lower drive to get the rest of the side missions completed when I don't have the achievements or trophies to chase.  I'm happy to see the pages disappear into the distance, not chasing them like those awful dynamic orbs in Crackdown 2.  I'm far more likely to head for the exclamation mark to continue the story.  This is shaking off years of videogame training, where sidequests may have been optional but they always made progression easier; in Assassin's Creed the benefits you get are marginal at best.

But it's still a bit overwhelming.

Assassin’s Creed III: an unexpected twist

Hang on, he was a Templar?

OK, the clues were there: generally unlikable; cold and calculating; trying to find things rather than prevent them.  The characterisation was painfully thin, once the twist was revealed. But it's made me quite unhappy that I have aided the wrong side for three chapters of the game.

And then his friend did this.


Playing as a kid for a chapter seemed odd, particularly because it seemed so insignificant. I suppose the idea was to set off the carefree nature of childhood against the pain of loss, but it just felt a bit stilted. Still, at least I know who I'm playing as now, and it looks like the rest of the game is going to have some spectacular scenery.


Assassin’s Creed III: an unlikable toff

Progressing with the series, a change of time period, a change of location, and a change of console.  I'm not sure if the latter is a good idea or not, because the combat controls have changed a lot from previous games, and I'm not sure if this is a change due to moving away from the Xbox 360, or if all versions have the same changes.  I assume it's the latter, and that means the change is a good one since I now how a larger map available to me (although not separately zoomable, which is annoying).

I seem to remember Assassin's Creed Revelations ended with Desmond being trapped in the Animus, but here he is, walking around with his friends, going to the pub and the greyhound races, having a picnic in the local park, watching the X-Factor and eating crisps.  Well, he's in the real world anyway.  There was a very brief explanation of him getting out, but it felt pretty tacked on.


Oh, and his dad was there as well.  I don't remember his dad from before.  Have I missed something?

Anyway, the big glowy ball of wonder opened a door, and the animus was set up inside a big cave system with no obvious food supply.  The target avatar this time was Haytham Kenway, a British man sent over to the US at the time of colonisation.  The first mission, however, was set in the Royal Opera House in Covent Garden (or, rather, the Theatre Royal as it was then known).  I was tempted to watch the play, but I suspect it would have repeated quite quickly.


I quite liked the effects of the world being built around you as you walked through the courtyard.

After assassinating in the theatre, I was sent to the US, and several missions aboard a boat.  It was only on arrival in America that the title screen appeared, over an hour into the game.


I don't like Haytham.  He is a calculating, mean, simplistic idiot who has no morality or ethics.  I didn't want to do half of the stuff he was meant to, particularly because it was largely directed against British soldiers who were innocent of malicious schemes.  That wasn't the only reason I struggled though; as mentioned above the controls have changed significantly, with aiming and combat 'simplified'.  There is no longer the need to lock on in hand-to-and combat, but this means you lose some control of where to direct your attacks.  Shooting is also much more difficult.


Assassin's Creed games were never about the shooting, though, so I wasn't too worried about that.  Except I should have been, because a few missions have almost depended on it.  Sigh.

Anyway, the changes don't stop at the controls.  Yes, there are still viewpoints ...


... and collectables such as note pages, but there is a distinct lack of the empire building from previous games.  No shops to buy, no assassin network to command - or even assassins to call on during missions, except in very restricted ways.  In a way this is good, since my main complaint about Revelations was that there was too much to do.  It may be that the game expands a bit, since previous entries introduced them gradually, but I'm now four hours in and it's still very linear.

It's lovely to look at though, certainly more so than Revelations, and there are some very nice graphical effects around the world.  I am currently hiking around the countryside in the snow trying to find out about the movements of someone called Braddock, and there's a real sense of inertia to movement.  As you walk, you dig furrows in the snow.  Unfortunately not everything is modelled with accurate physics, meaning that if you kill an animal (such as one of the wolves which are constantly attacking you) and then walk around its corpse, you can make it levitate.


Hopefully I will adapt to the controls soon.  The Wii U controller is great for the game though, and I like the larger map, especially for planning movements through lots of guards.

Year Walk (Wii U): COMPLETED!

It seemed appropriate to play Year Walk, given it is nearly Halloween, and the fact it was very cheap on the eShop helped too.

Year Walk is a graphical adventure game, where you play as a man taking part in the dubious Swedish ritual of Årsgång, a sort of spiritual journey where the participant can supposedly learn about their future. It involves exploring a small map, making note of various shapes and markings, and solving a few simple puzzles.

Oh, and it’s scary. And bizarre. I can’t go too much into it as that’ll spoil the surprises, story and jump-scares the game has to offer, but several events are more than a little disturbing.

year walk
What key is scary? A Spoo-key.

Things get even more disturbing after the game has been completed, with secret extras that blur the line between the game and reality. Probably best you don’t play it just before going to bed. Like I did.

I can’t say it was fun, but it was certainly very interesting. And worrying.

what_s_in_the_box

The post Year Walk (Wii U): COMPLETED! appeared first on deKay's Gaming Diary.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE (Wii U): COMPLETED!

Oh yes. Now this is a damn fine game. I’ve always liked JRPGs although it’s few that I finish mainly due to their overwhelming length, or in some cases, complexity or difficulty. I thoroughly enjoyed Persona 4 Golden for the 10 or 15 hours I put into it, but something about the complicated Persona system confused me enough to cause me to back away. Having completed Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE, I’m dying to get it back in.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

Why would Tokyo Mirage make me want to get back to Persona? Because Tokyo Mirage is Persona, only with a light Fire Emblem theme and a more streamlined, easier to understand, weapon and skill system. It’s My First Persona, and that is absolutely in no way putting it down – it’s a way into the world of Persona and is more than awesome enough in its own right too.

I loved the setting, the quirky Japaneseness, the characters and the real world (almost) locations. The acting and singing as a form of “training” for battle and unlocking abilities is crazy but works, with performances of some great JPop tracks. I became obsessed with the Carnage weapons and their upgrade system, unlocking skills and powers as you go. I don’t recall playing a game where as well as levelling up your characters, you can also level up your powers and your weapons, and even your capabilities as a performer allowing even more skills and abilities.

Tokyo Mirage Sessions #FE

Dungeons don’t feel like dungeons, even though they plainly are, and each isn’t just differently themed, they have their own puzzle mechanic – from finding the correct order of buttons to press, to running errands, to essentially a variant on a slide puzzle. It might have just six or so of these Idolaspheres, once for each chapter, but they’re large and full of surprises, especially when you return to them later and access different areas.

There’s a well paced difficulty curve, but if you find things difficult and decide to push that JRPG staple of grinding, the game helps out by providing not only a specific area – the arena – full of enemies, but also two skills or items you can use to summon random encounters at a higher rate, or even higher level enemies more frequently.

As for my playthrough, I spent 70 excellent hours working my way to the final boss, and another five failing, levelling and then defeating him. Seventy five hours of glorious combat, funny dialogue and twisted Tokyo. Quite possibly my game of the year so far.

Click to view slideshow.

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